Earthshot Prize

Introducing the winners of the Earthshot Prize

6 minutes read

The Earthshot Prize announced its first prize winners of the prestigious environment awards at a recent ceremony in London. Each of the five winners will receive a prize of £1 million and the support of a global network of professional and technical leaders to drive their environmental solutions forward.

The winners include innovative technologists, innovators, an entire nation and a creative city. Each winner was selected by the Earthshot Prize Council for their innovative solutions to the environmental challenges we face and their potential to scale their project in response to the challenges we currently face.

The ceremony completed a 10-month worldwide search, including 750 nominees from across the world. Through a structured process, 15 finalists were selected by an expert panel for the potential positive impact on our planet and people and their ability to support the Earthshot goals.

The winners attended the ceremony via a global broadcast, which included the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Sir David Attenborough. The 15 finalists all receive bespoke support from the Earthshot Prize Global Alliance, a network of NGOs, professionals and private sector businesses who will assist in scaling their solutions.

Introducing the five winners of the Earthshot Prize…

Protecting and restoring nature – Costa Rica

Forests are habitats for half of our plants and animals. They naturally sequester carbon from the air and return the oxygen we breathe. Yet, despite the benefits, more trees were cut down in 2020 than ever before, resulting in 10% of global warming. Back in the 1990s, the dense forests of Costa Rica were reduced to approximately half their size. The communities of Costa Rica and the Ministry for Environment had a goal to save the forests. The projects paid the people to protect their forests, plant trees and restore ecosystems. The results were remarkable. Costa Rica expanded its forests to twice the size. Plants and animals recovered and thrived, causing a spike in ecotourism which now generates $4 billion every year for the national economy.

The government now applies these techniques to urban areas and believes that around 30% of our lands and oceans could be protected similarly. Winning the Earthshot prize will highlight the knowledge and measures implemented in Costa Rica to other areas in the world. The term ‘Pura Vida’ is the motto of Costa Rica and could soon resonate worldwide.

Clean Air Winner – Takachar, India

We generate approximately $120 billion of agricultural waste every year. Materials that aren’t sold are often burnt, resulting in detrimental consequences for the environment and our health. The burning of agricultural waste results in air pollution, which has been so severe in areas that have reduced life expectancy by nearly a decade. Air pollution is a major concern to the people of New Delhi. Smoke from human-induced fires creates serious problems for human health. Takachar, a social enterprise created by Vidyut Mohan, is tackling this specific issue. Takachar has created an affordable, small scale portable system that can be attached to tractors on remote farms. The machine converts crop residues into commercially viable bio-products like fuel and fertiliser. The technology reduces smoke emissions by nearly 98%, improving air quality that reduces life expectancy by up to 5 years. If expanded, the system could eliminate a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, a significant win for the farmers of India and the fight against climate change.

Revive our oceans winner – Coral Vita, the Bahamas

Ocean warming and acidification are forecasted to destroy more than 90% of our reefs by 2050. This figure represents a disaster for the abundant marine life that depends on reefs and humans who rely on the benefits of these environments.

After Coral Vita launched their first facility in Grand Bahama, Hurricane Dorian destroyed their coral farm. The experience only highlighted the realism of the climate emergency and powered the business to find a solution to protecting our reefs.

Coral Vita grows coral on land and replants it in the oceans, providing new life to struggling ecosystems. Its techniques grow coral approximately 50 times quicker than traditional methods and increase the resilience of areas to climate change. Applying the methods of Coral Vita means a single farm could potentially generate coral for an entire nation, and they have a vision of creating a network of farms across every country, supporting a restoration economy that preserves the ecosystem that can sustain us all.

Building a waste-free world winner – Milan

We waste approximately a third of our food produced worldwide. Every piece of discarded food uses valuable resources and applies further pressure on agriculture. Global food systems generate nearly 30% of the total greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. At the same time, there are millions of people that experience food insecurity. 

The City of Milan Food Waste Hubs focuses on two problems simultaneously. Starting in 2019 with the target of reducing waste by half by 2030, each hub recovers food predominantly from supermarkets and gives it to NGOs to distribute it to those in need.

Milan is the first city to introduce a large-scale city-wide food waste policy, incorporating public agencies, food banks, NGOs, universities and private businesses. The results have been impressive. Today, Milan has expanded to three Food Waste Hubs, each recovering in the region of 130 tonnes of food every year or the equivalent of 350 kg per day. Milan has provided a blueprint to other cities worldwide. If more urban areas follow the path of Milan, cities may become one of the most valuable assets on our journey towards a waste-free world.

Fix our climate winner – AEM Electrolyser: Thailand/Germany/Italy

Developed on a small South Pacific Island, Enapter has created a green hydrogen technology that could change how we power our planet. Enapter provides an alternative source of clean energy. The AEM Electrolyser technology converts renewable electricity into emission-free hydrogen gas. The technology has already worked in the automotive and aviation industry, as well as heating homes.

Further support from the Earthshot Prize will enable further scaled development and expand their research and development team. By 2050, Enter has the vision to contribute to 10% of hydrogen generation worldwide.

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